Normandy provides holidaymakers with a breath of fresh air, in every sense of the word – a unique combination of coastline and countryside to delight nature lovers and sports enthusiasts alike.
Hug the coastline where you can practice windsurfing (Sword beach), wakeboarding (Utah beach), go snorkeling or scuba diving (Gold or Omaha beach), sand yachting (Juno beach) or swimming. Learn how to handle a boat at one of the numerous sailing schools on the coastline. Or just lie back on the sand and enjoy the view, my favorite being Omaha beach. Why? Let me give you a hint: the real name of this beach is “la plage d’Or” meaning the Gold beach!
Inland, the generous landscape is crisscrossed with more than 6,000 km or marked trails for walkers; the famous Mont Saint Michel pilgrimage trail – GR®22 (GR = Grande Randonnée). In medieval times the Mont Saint Michel was one of the great centers of Christian pilgrimage. Devoted walkers will also enjoy some other blazed long distance trails like the famous GR®223, a coastline path leading you on more than 430km from the Bay of Les Veys to the Bay of the Mont Saint Michel!
For the cyclists why not follow the famous 2016 Tour de France itinerary: Mont Saint Michel, Utah beach, Cherbourg? You will be able to discover untouched landscapes, preserved natural environments, typical architecture and historical places by either following cycling itineraries or making up your own!
As for horse-riders visit the renowned stud farms of the Haras du Pin or Haras de Saint Lo; the first created by the famous Finance Controller of Louis XIV, Jean-Baptiste Colbert in 1665, the second by Napoleon in 1806!
Yes you are right; they are so many ways for you to discover why Normandy is such a beautiful region! The orchards of the Pays d’Auge, the marshland of the Bessin & Cotentin, the patchwork fields of the Bocage, the gorges of the Suisse Normande, the Ardennes woods…
Still not convinced? Well perhaps the crags (rock of Oëtre) & cliffs of Normandy Switzerland (eldest mountains of France!) a famous centre for rock climbing via ferrata – a sport which enables non-climbers to enjoy the thrills of climbing along a secure route of bars, ropes and iron rungs (Viaduct of the Souleuvre built by Gustave Eiffel!) will change your mind. You can even take to the air on a tandem flight with a paraglider (Omaha beach) or parachute (Mont Saint Michel), no experience is necessary just be motivated!
Too challenging for you? You prefer something more aristocratic! Then get closer to nature with a leisurely paddle along one of our picturesque rivers (Orne or Vire rivers) or relax on the bank with rod and line. The rivers meander through deep valleys and wooded hills. Still not convinced? Then head for the river Touques which flows through the Pays d’Auge to Deauville (American Film Festival) and offers the best sea-trout fishing in Normandy if not of France, as well as Atlantic salmon.
With so many rivers flowing through the Orne, Calvados and Manche department, we are blessed with several important areas of protected wetland habitat – the Dives marshes, the Orne estuary, the Bay of Les Veys, the Rocks of Ham, the Sélune river, the bay of Mont Saint Michel, the Chausey islands and the dune belt of the West coast of Le Cotentin where the Sienne rivers flows into the famous Gulf Stream! Each one a true paradise not only for birdwatchers but people who love nature! These nature reserves are key sites for variety of migrating species. More than 300 species of birds, including 43 protected at the European level. We have more than 1,100 varieties of plants, hundreds of mushrooms not to mention reptiles, amphibians and mammals. If you are lucky you may see on our shoreline (Bay le Grand Vey, Orne Estuary), seals bathing in the sun!
And last but not least, throughout Normandy you will be able to relax in peaceful parks (Cotentin & Bessin Marshlands Regional Nature Park, the Normandie-Maine Regional Nature park, the Forest of Cerisy…), botanic gardens in a variety of styles (Balleroy, Saussey, Le Champ de la Pierre, Bayeux…), twenty one of them awarded the elite label of Remarkable Garden by the Ministry of Culture & Communication.